1968: I Spy previews Skyfall’s climax

I Spy's Robert Culp

I Spy’s Robert Culp

Skyfall’s climatic scene, with Daniel Craig’s James Bond making a last stand against Javier Bardem’s villain Silva at 007’s family home, was compared by fans and critics to Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs in 1971 or the 1990 comedy Home Alone. But there may be a better comparison.

The 1968 I Spy episode Home to Judgment at times almost seems like a blueprint for Skyfall. Jaded spy Kelly Robinson (Robert Culp), along with his partner Alexander Scott (Bill Cosby), are on the run after a mission has gone bad. They end up at the farm where Kelly spent some summers as a youth.

Kelly hasn’t been there for 27 years and says he can’t even remember the voices of his Uncle Harry and Aunt Alta, who still tend the farm. The agents have no choice but to hide out there. Their mission was to identify a group of saboteurs, who have covers as businessmen. But the saboteurs figured out who Kelly and Scott were and are hunting the agents. Meanwhile, “the department” told the agents if they were discovered, they’d have to get out of it on their own, there would be no backup.

All of this sets up a kill-or-be-killed scenario. Kelly is particularly guilty about involving his relatives but it doesn’t matter. The saboteurs are simply going to kill everyone. Eventually, after Kelly finally tells Harry and Alta who he really is, the agents booby trap the farmhouse with everyday objects (stretching that definition a bit, such as having some old blasting caps, plus a few sticks of dynamite, which the saboteurs had planted in Harry’s car). Harry has his own rifle and an older rifle that Kelly shot as a boy. The latter doesn’t have much stopping power but Kelly fires it to set off some of the booby traps now in the house.

Harry (Will Geer) is an ornery old cuss, not unlike Albert Finney’s Kincade. Harry was also a deputy sheriff at one time, so he’s not totally inexperienced at this sort of thing. Alta (Una Merkel) doesn’t have any experience at all, but still helps with the booby traps, not unlike Judi Dench’s M in Skyfall.

The story was the seventh, and final, I Spy episode written by Culp. The actor didn’t have a good feeling about the show’s pilot and proceeded to write four scripts for the first season. One of those stories (So Long, Patrick Henry) would be the first aired by NBC while the pilot wouldn’t be shown until about midway through the first season.

Also, here’s a shoutout to 007 fan Gary Firuta, who pinged us about this some time back. We finally got around to rewatching our copy of the I Spy episode this week. Meanwhile, a respondent to the Double O Section blog mentioned it. You can CLICK HERE to see it (search for the word “Judgment.”)